In a pair of news conferences late Tuesday afternoon, officials from both the City of Rochester and the Rochester City School District admitted that mistakes were made in the events that led up to the death of 14 year old Trevyan Rowe.
His body was recovered from the Genesee River, near downtown, late Sunday afternoon. Trevyan had been last seen getting off a school bus at School 12 on South Avenue Thursday morning. But surveillance video indicated he turned away from the school, and never went inside. It wasn’t until several hours later the teen’s family learned that he had not been accounted for.
During a news conference that included School District Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams and Board President Van White, it was revealed that three teachers wrongly marked Trevyan as being present.
“From what we’ve discovered this far, the reason is that he was marked as being present by three of his teachers at three different times, although his special education teacher correctly marked him as being absent. I was also most disturbed to learn that there was an attempt to change the record to cover up these errors,” Deane-Williams told reporters.
District officials say that several employees have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues.
Deane-Williams also says that even if Trevyan was correctly marked absent, the current system would not have had a robo-call going out to his family until 11:00 a.m. She wants to see that system changed.
At another news conference Tuesday afternoon, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, Police Chief Michael Ciminelli, and Acting Director of the 911 Center, Steve Cusenz were talking about failures that happened during the dispatch process.
There have been reports from drivers in recent days that they had seen someone matching Trevyan’s description on the Douglass-Anthony Bridge. But Warren says when 911 dispatchers took that call, the correct protocols were not followed.
“While the 911 center dispatched a State Trooper, it’s also our protocol that when someone is in distress on a bridge above water, to dispatch fire rescue, and notify the scuba team; this did not happen.”
As result, Warren says that six 911 employees have been placed on administrative leaving pending the outcome of a full investigation.
“I know that our first responders who put all they could into the search for Trevyan hoped for a different outcome , so did I. It is my pledge to do right by every resident in our community; our community and this family deserves to know that mistakes were made.”
Warren said that, “Today is definitely a sad day, because if it weren’t for human error, in this case there might have a different outcome and the adults failed this young man and we have to own that.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by city school officials. Deane-Williams also indicated that besides looking at various safety procedures, the district will also need to look at how it classifies students She says that although Trevyan was classified as having learning disabilities, he was not classified as having autism, which might have triggered more supervision when he got off the school bus and entered the school each day.
The district would like a full, independent investigation to be done, possibly by the NYS Education Department. Officials also say the family has retained a lawyer.
School Board President Van White said that, "we failed that young man, and our job is to make sure it doesn't happen again."
You can listen to both news conferences here.